- Birth name:
- Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick
- Date of Birth:
- 17 February 1922 Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
- 5' 2" (1.57 m)
Kathryn Grayson was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, N.C. on February 9, 1922. This pretty, petite, brunette with a heart-shaped face, was discovered by MGM talent scouts while singing on the radio. MGM quickly signed her to a contract, and was given acting lessons along with taking countless publicity photos. Kathryn, a coloratura soprano, made her first film in 1941, the movie was a B-picture named Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941). She soon was cast opposite some of MGM's top musical stars of the 40s, such as, Gene Kelly and Mario Lanza. She was paired with Lanza a few times, but the two never got along, mainly due to Lanza's hot temper and alcohol abuse. The pairing of Lanza and Grayson would never match the success of lyrical soprano Jeanette MacDonald and baritone, Nelson Eddy. Although, Kathryn and Jeanette MacDonald did become great friends. Jeanette became a mentor and an older sister figure for Kathryn. Kathryn's most memorable roles came in the early 1950's. They were Show Boat (1951), where she played "Magnolia", opposite Ava Gardner and Howard Keel and in Kiss Me Kate (1953) playing actress "Lilli Vanessi", who portrayed "Katherine" in the movie's "show within a show", a musical version of "The Taming of the Shrew". In 1953, she exited MGM, then made only one more film, The Vagabond King (1956), at Paramount. She later worked in nightclubs and on stage.